Dark and engaging, Christopher Nolan’s Batman restart is completely different from what comic book fans have been given previously. While not the first to take such a serious, grim look at a comic icon, Batman Begins set the trend of taking these characters as more than kid stuff when put on screen for Hollywood fans to consume. While not perfect, this is a fine origin tale with a solid plot line and developed characters that can take this series all the way out.
Batman Begins' heaviest flaw is its length. It’s almost an hour before we see Christian Bale don the full Bat suit, and nearly 20 minutes until Cillian Murphy is in Scarecrow garb. The set up for Batman is extensive, giving reason to his being, explaining all aspects of the character, and taking its time to do it. This coincides with a police investigation that’s handled incredibly well by all involved.
Emotional and involving, this is a gripping story of a man obsessed not with vengeance, but justice. It heightens the realism of the character even through the direction could probably handle that without words. Gotham is a grim place, but one where some incredible action set pieces can take place. With the right amount of humor sprinkled in, Batman Begins is simply awe-inspiring entertainment.
It’s hard to imagine how far we’ve come from the ‘60s adaptation of Batman. While that series will always have its campy, schlocky charm, Nolan’s Batman injects enough logic to the story that is all seems plausible. And yes, it may not be the movie it once was after we’ve been spoiled by The Dark Knight, but Begins is still worthy canon of the Batman legacy.
This is a direct transfer from the prior HD DVD release. As such, it doesn’t take full advantage of the format, and time has lowered the quality of the original. The picture is soft, and fine details struggle to come through. While certain shots are nearly flawless, the majority of the video is rather flat, although still a hefty jump from a DVD. The superb blacks do keep a stunning level of contrast , and the flesh tones are accurate. It’s a shame Warner didn’t issue a new encode though.
Dolby TrueHD leads a full on audio assault. Bass is powerful, producing a superb rumble without muting the stunning effects occurring in other channels. Separation is perfect, and the use of surrounds is staggering because of it. Dialogue can be mixed slightly low during quieter scenes. This is a minor complaint in a showcase worth disc.
The Limited Edition Gift Set comes packaged with a lenticular front cover and a box that requires the top or bottom to be opened to remove the insides. It’s inconvenient, and it’s easy to damage.
Once inside, you’ll find far too much promotional material for The Dark Knight, including a coupon for a ticket to see the movie. A comic includes the opening sequence of Dark Knight, and another booklet dissecting the same scene in storyboard without showing The Joker’s face. A set of five perforated postcards are the only box set extra actually dedicated to the film inside the box.
On the disc itself, you’ll get eight featurettes that combined run close to two hours. These cover the script, key scenes, visual effects, and more. A still gallery is self explanatory, some fun Confidential Files are a series of animations detailing various items in the Batman universe, and a MTV spoof with Jimmy Fallon is included, too.
A picture-in-picture feature runs throughout the film, and is loaded with cast and crew discussing the film. This is the only way to access these behind the scenes features and interviews however. Finally, that opening sequence of The Dark Knight is included here in its entirety in the IMAX format. So, did we really need two booklets showing up the opening in the Gift Set, Warner?
Christopher Nolan is a dedicated director, to say the least. He chose not to use a second unit during filming. Instead, he took over every shot during the 120 day shoot.